Celebrating James R Dean @ 100

4 Model Airplanes

JRD built his first model airplanes when he was about 4 years old. His family had a small business making wooden toys, mostly trucks I think. He would use the scraps from cutting out the toy pieces to make airplanes. He recalled building 11 model airplanes for his brother Johnny's 11th birthday (1922). When he was a little older, he would draw a line on the floor of his model-making space that his friends had to stand behind, as he was afraid they would mess with his stuff and damage his planes. He often had an audience.
JRD built his first gas-powered model in 1938, entered his first contest with it in 1939, and placed 5th. The trophy is one of the very few that he ever won. His model building was never really about flying, it was all about design, engineering and building. His planes were clever, interesting and beautiful. But they never flew as well as they looked, and he did not really care.
I do not recall many models being built in the 50s or earliest 60s. Joining the Southern California Antique Model Plane Society - SCAMPS - in the 60s he revived the hobby in a big way. JRD found some great friends and the relationships lasted the rest of his life. He built gas or rubber (band) powered freeflight models, most if not all 'old timers' or 'antiques', designs prior to 1939 (old rules). Dozens of airplanes came out of his garage, pictures of some of them to follow...